Header photo by Sachiko Takeuchi / 竹内佐智子
All over Japan, people long for and adore the Cherry Blossoms Season.
The bloom lasts only a short period of time, typically about a week or so, which makes it all the more special. Often, a chilly spring weather called "Hanabie" (花冷え), literally ‘flower chilling,’ happens around this same time, giving people a few extra days to enjoy the blossoms.
Then, millions of petals begin to fall. Some of them land on near-by water in a mass, turning the surface a pale-pink. The phenomenon is lovingly called "Hana-Ikada" (花筏), or Floral Raft.
Shoko Hikage began playing koto at the age of three. Her first teacher was Chizuga Kimura of the Ikuta-ryu Sokyoku Seigen Kai in Akita Prefecture, Japan. From 1985, she received special training from the 2nd and 3rd IEMOTO Seiga Adachi. In 1988, Hikage graduated from Takasaki College with a major in koto music. She was then accepted as a special research student in Sawai Koto Institute under Tadao and Kazue Sawai, where she received her master's certificate. Hikage also completed a one-year intensive seminar at the Sawai Sokyoku In. In 1992, she moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to teach koto at the Sawai Koto Kai Hawaii and at the University of Hawaii. There she held her first American solo recital at the Honolulu Academy of Arts Theatre as part of the New Music Across America Series. In 1997, she moved to San Francisco where she continued her concert and teaching activities. Hikage premiered Hyo-shin Na's “Crazy Horse" for Korean Traditional Orchestra and Koto Solo with the National Orchestra of Traditional Instruments in Seoul, Korea in November, 2011. In the Bay Area, she also premiered Hyo-shin Na’s " Night Procession of the Hundred Demons", "Koto Music" and "Koto Ninano". In 2014, Hikage gave a solo recital with a program devoted to Hyo-shin Na's music for koto/bass koto at Buam Arts Hall in Seoul, Korea. In 2017, Hikage organized historic concerts “Hengenjizai World of Koto Music” featuring two koto virtuosos, Soju Nosaka and Kazue Sawai at Herbst Theater in San Francisco. Shoko Hikage is a member of Wooden Fish Ensemble and Koto ensemble Lantana. Currently based in Sacramento, CA, she continues to lecture at the universities about koto music as well.